It’s February: the month of love and valentines and, depending on where you live, possibly very chilly temperatures. Some places have experienced record-breaking cold this winter. So when we were brainstorming the theme for this month’s newsletter, we thought what better topic to focus on than warmth?
These five simple ideas and activities were chosen not only for their temperature-raising potential, but also for their ability to promote warmth and connection among you and your loved ones. Feel free to share your own ideas or photos of how you “keep warm together” on Facebook or Twitter.
The more the merrier when it comes to baking. Even very young children can help out by measuring, pouring and stirring ingredients. Try Daniela’s Brownie recipe, our lemon cornmeal cookies or a favorite recipe of your own. To spread the warmth even further, invite friends and/or other family members to join in for a Bake-Off. Choose one food item that everyone makes and then throw a party where you share the finished products. Everyone gets to taste and vote on the best recipe, and maybe the winner gets a prize? This is also a great idea for older kids who like to cook to do with friends.
Who doesn’t love a blanket fort? (And anything with blanket in the title is sure to promote warmth). You can wing it on your own with a few chairs, blankets and pillows, or you can read here for more detailed instructions. For optimal warmth and connection, be sure to grab flashlights and get in the fort with your kids.
Nothing’s better on a chilly evening than holding a mug of something warm and sweet in your hands. To make it more fun, get the kids in the kitchen to to help you make homemade hot chocolate (with homemade whipped cream to go with it) or mulled hot cider. As for games, we’ve got plenty to choose from, although if it’s really cold, we recommend Charades to keep you moving and raise your body temperature!
Everybody in! Make it a point on a Saturday or Sunday morning to all squeeze into bed together. Nothing’s better than body heat for warmth, and silliness is sure to follow. If you already have a family tradition of snuggling together on the weekend, add an extra five or ten minutes to that time this month, in honor of Valentine’s Day (and the Polar Vortex).
How about a luau in the living room this month featuring Hawaiian Chicken? Or you can have an indoor barbecue and invite the neighbors (who it seems like you never see any more because it’s too cold to leave the house) over to join you. Make it a potluck, perhaps. The more company, the more warmth all around.
We love soup because it’s an inexpensive, nutritious and easy-to-make meal for busy families. Like all soups, this vegetable soup recipe can be prepared ahead of time, and often tastes just as good (if not better!) on the second or third day, as the flavors blend.
Write a Haiku
This is a perfect activity for Valentine’s Day—or any day, really. Invite your family to express their feelings for each other in a haiku. A haiku is a specific type of poem that contains three lines and 17 syllables. There are 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, and 5 in the third. They’re fun to write and can be as creative as you can dream up.
Here’s an example, family dinner style:
I love you because
you make my favorite dinner
and you make it fun
That’s Amore! Our conversation starters this month are all around the theme of what else? Love.
Name five people you love most in the world, and why (animals are OK too).
There’s a song that goes: “when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore…’ What other foods does the moon look like?
What makes you feel loved?
Do you find it easy to say I love you, or hard? Are there times when it’s harder than others?
Who or what exemplifies the meaning of “love” to you?
Do you have a favorite love story? Is it from a book, movie or real life? Talk about it.
One of the Beatles’ most famous songs is “All You Need is Love.” Do you think that’s true? What other necessities might you throw in there?
Who was the first person you fell in love with? ( or “Talk about your first love.”)
What one lesson about love would you share with those younger than you?